Joe Manchin has condemned Bernie Sanders for writing an op ed in Manchin’s home state urging voters to support Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, as the Democratic infighting over the legislation escalated.
Manchin, 74, the senator for West Virginia, is stubbornly refusing to back Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan, saying it is too much money.
Sanders, 80, senator for Vermont, insists that it is essential to right some of the wrongs of U.S. society.
On Friday Sanders took the unusual step of appealing directly to Manchin’s constituents with an op ed in the state’s biggest newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Bernie Sanders, 80, a senator for Vermont, on Friday took the highly unusual step of writing an op ed in another senator’s state. He wrote in West Virginia’s biggest newspaper that voters should support a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill
Sanders’ intervention was not appreciated by the senator for West Virginia, Joe Manchin. Manchin, 74, has stubbornly refused to support the $3.5 trillion plan and said Sanders could not sway him
‘The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, supported by President Biden and almost all Democrats in Congress, is an unprecedented effort to finally address the long-neglected crises facing working families and demand that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in the country start paying their fair share of taxes,’ Sanders wrote.
He pointed out how the bill could help West Virginians with lower prices for prescription drugs, expanding Medicare, and improving childcare.
‘The United States, and states like West Virginia and Vermont in particular, are seeing their populations age,’ he said.
‘This bill greatly expands home health care and makes sure that these jobs are adequately paid.’
Sander concluded: ‘This is a pivotal moment in modern American history. We now have a historic opportunity to support the working families of West Virginia, Vermont and the entire country and create policy which works for all, not just the few.’
Manchin, who as a moderate in a Senate split 50:50 wields immense power, has stubbornly refused to back the $3.5 trillion plan.
He issued a stinging rebuke to Sanders on Friday, accusing him of having no idea of what was best for West Virginians.
‘This isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state,’ Manchin said.
He pointed to concerns over inflation and supply chains, and accused Sanders of wanting to ‘throw more money on an already overheated economy’.
‘Congress should proceed with caution on any additional spending and I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs.
‘No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that.’
Manchin has proposed holding the measure’s overall 10-year cost to $1.5 trillion and has said he wants to limit some health care initiatives to benefit only lower-earning people.
Sanders and Manchin stand, respectively, as among the Democrats’ most progressive and conservative senators.
Sanders, pictured on October 5, is among the Senate Democrats’ most progressive voice, while Manchin is among its most moderate
Manchin is seen on October 7 embracing Senator John Hickenlooper, his fellow Democrat, of Colorado
Biden said on Friday that he does not think the $3.5 trillion plan will be passed, and a slimmed-down version will prevail.
Yet, although he expects the package to shrink, he said during a visit to Connecticut that he would top up the legislation after it was passed.
‘We’re not going to get $3.5 trillion,’ he admitted.
‘We’ll get less than that, but we’re gonna get it.
‘And we’re going to come back and get the rest.’
Democrats on Capitol Hill are working to reduce the sweeping package to about $2 trillion in spending, which would be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
The proposal includes everything from free child care and community college to dental, vision and hearing aid benefits for seniors and a number of significant provisions meant to combat climate change.
They are all key items for progressives, but moderates such as Manchin have balked at the original $3.5 trillion price tag.
Joe Biden is seen speaking to journalists outside Air Force One in Connecticut on Friday. He is trying to rally support for the $3.5 trillion bill around the country, but is facing resistance
One almost certain reduction would be in the proposal for free community college.
‘I doubt whether we will get the entire funding for community colleges but I’m not going to give up on community colleges as long as I’m president,’ Biden said.
His wife, Jill, is a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College.
With slim margins in the House and the Senate, Democrats have no votes to spare on the bill.
On Friday, Biden visited a child development center in Hartford to speak about a need for investments in child care and other social safety net programs, arguing they are imperative to keep America competitive in the global economy.
At the center, Biden promoted his proposal to make such care free for lower-income families, and ensure that families making up to 150 per cent of their state’s median income pay less than 7 per cent of their salaries on child care.
The plan is part of a massive expansion of the social safety net that Biden has championed and is aiming to pass with just Democratic votes in Congress.
‘Too many folks in Washington still don’t realize it isn’t enough just to invest in our physical infrastructure,’ he said.
‘We also have to invest in our people.’